AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Both golfers who'll be in the final pairing of a suddenly scintillating Masters have been through all of this Augusta National-on-Sunday excitement before.
Bubba Watson did it in 2012, when he won the green jacket in a playoff. And Jordan Spieth did it often in his imagination while practicing putts as a kid -- which wasn't all that long ago.
That is only half of the story, because Watson failed to extend his second-round lead and fell back to 5 under par, bringing a big crowd into contention.
Thirteen players -- including four major champions -- are somewhere between 5 under and 1 under, poised to test the adage that the Masters begins on the back nine on Sunday.
"I'm 20 and this is the Masters, this is the tournament I've always dreamed about," said Spieth, who shot a poised 2-under 70 on Saturday to get to 211 and will start Sunday tied with Watson. "As far as being patient, shot-to-shot, I think I've done the best that I ever have with my mental game."
With a win Sunday, Spieth would become the youngest champion in Masters history. He knows enough about that history to realize how hard it will be. He prepared for it by hitting pitch shots in his yard and pretending to win the Masters when he was learning the game at Brookhaven Country Club in Texas. Spieth was savvy enough to seek advice from fellow Texan Ben Crenshaw, a two-time winner here, and Crenshaw's caddie Carl Jackson, who has carried in 53 Masters.
"I was going to buy a T-shirt for (my caddie) that says, 'Carl Says,' because he keeps saying that to me out there," Spieth said.
Watson can rely on his own experiences -- the ones from two years ago, more than the ones from Saturday. He did eagle the second hole to go 8 under and birdied No. 10, to get back to 6 under. But his putting stroke was not as confident as it had appeared during the first two rounds. He shot 2-over 74, with pars on the par-5 13th and 15th feeling like bogeys for a big hitter like him.
"You have to keep looking at where you're at. You're still winning so you can't get down," he said. "If you're going to get down when you're still winning, then you've got issues. And I do have issues, but ..."
He smiled when he said that. He also insisted he won't be uneasy waiting to tee off at 2:40 (local time) -- after the likes of Matt Kuchar and 2012 Frys.com Open champion Jonas Blixt (4 under) and Rickie Fowler and Miguel Angel Jimenez (3 under).
"You always have that dream as a kid," Watson said. "So when you get here, you hear the same roars and you want to be part of those roars. On Sunday, that's a big deal because that's the day they give out the green jacket ... I've won one, so I've got that going for me. If I play bad tomorrow, I still have a green jacket."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
After third round
Player Scores Par
Jordan Spieth 71-70-70 -- -5
Bubba Watson 69-68-74 -- -5
Jonas Blixt 70-71-71 -- -4
Matt Kuchar 73-71-68 -- -4
Miguel A. Jimenez 71-76-66 -- -3
Rickie Fowler 71-75-67 -- -3
Jim Furyk 74-68-72 -- -2
Fred Couples 71-71-73 -- -1
Full leader board, PAGE 8
YOUNGEST MASTERS WINNERS
Co-leader Jordan Spieth, 20, is in position to become the youngest Masters champion. Here's a look at the three youngest winners:
Tiger Woods, 1997, 21 years old
Woods won his first major tournament in dominating fashion, winning by 12 strokes and becoming the event's first black champion.
Seve Ballesteros, 1980, 23
The Spaniard became the first European to win the major (he won by four strokes), and then added a second title at Augusta in 1983.
Jack Nicklaus, 1963, 23
Nicklaus held off Oakland native Tony Lema by one stroke for the second of his record 18 major titles. His first major title was the 1962 U.S. Open.